There is a lot to find praise with this production and the most prominent component is Peter McBoyle's sound design. It was clear, perfectly balanced, and stood out as soon as the production got under way. The audio has never sounded so good at the QE.
The cast of this production are a force to be reckoned with. Michelle Alves (Anita), MaryJoanna Grisso (Maria), Jarrad Biron Green (Tony), and Michael Spencer Smith (Bernardo) in particular were flawless in their performances.
Grisso's and Green's voices were a powerful compliment to each other and illustrated that nicely during “One Hand, One Heart”.
All the lead singers showed incredible control and technique adding a richness that gave depth to their individual characters, but it was Alves who stole the show as a triple threat actor/singer/dancer. Her outstanding, electric voice, and stage presence truly set her apart, especially during “America”.
The show was a lovely blend of English and Spanish that did not patronize with too much translation, but instead allowed us to tap in to the language of the movement and expression on stage.
Alves and Smith also nailed Joey McKneely's reproduction of the choreography, which flowed beautifully in this new environment and blended nicely against James Youman's clever and well thought out scene design.
If there were any criticisms about the show, one would have to be the piece, “Gee, Officer Krupke”. The temperament of the piece seemed utterly out of place: a gleeful oddity entirely inconsistent with the rest of the play. Another observation would be the amount of kissing that seemed to attempt to hammer home the believability of the romance. An finally, Tony's dieing words should never have been sung unless the director was aiming for the chuckles it brought forth from the audience: that, and the drawn out length of that final scene. It is quite likely that this is what held the audience back from the ovation that the cast otherwise fully deserved.
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